There are numerous outlets and online stores that offer prefab fireplaces, and the selections are quite varied. Prefab units consist of a firebox that may or may not be partially lined with brick depending on the price range and style of the unit. However all prefab fireplaces are contained in an insulated sheet metal housing and come with a natural gas connection for those who enjoy the log lighter feature. Accessory items such as galvanized flue ducts, roof flashing and a spark arrestor cap are available through the outlet where the prefab unit is purchased.
Purchasing a prefab fireplace is first a matter of determining where the unit will be installed and the amount of wall space that will be affected. Some designers and homeowners’ prefer to leave enough wall space on either side of the fireplace for built in cases or certain pieces of furniture that compliment a design scheme.
Another design consideration with regard to the type of unit selected is whether or not one prefers a raised or flush hearth. A flush hearth unit has a minimum 2” sheet metal face across the bottom that elevates the fire box from the surface of the floor. It is important to note this nominal clearance may not be advisable where carpet or wood flooring is installed but is acceptable with ceramic tile or concrete floors. Conversely a raised hearth unit has an 8” sheet metal face across the bottom of the fire box which is acceptable clearance from carpet or wood flooring.
Finally there are several considerations with regard to the actual installation that must be addressed when selecting and buying a prefab fireplace. For one the amount of ductwork needed is directly proportionate to the distance from the unit to approximately 60" above the surface of the roof and these determinations can be made by an architect or a reliable building contractor prior to purchasing the unit or any accessories.
Next, there are many sizes of prefab units available to accommodate the dimensions of almost any room and these units can be installed on the face of a wall, recessed and flush with a wall surface or on a diagonal in a corner of the room. In situations where the installation of a prefab unit will require extensive work to create the ceiling and roof penetrations for the flue ducts a self-venting unit would most likely be a cost effective choice. These units are also available in a range of styles and sizes and require only a thru-wall penetration to the outside of the room for the flue.
Be sure to consult with the local department of building and safety for any code requirements that may pertain to the installation of a prefab fireplace since often times these departments offer additional suggestions or provide further recommendations that can also be cost effective.